2020 | Culture & Community Mental Health Speaker Series



Date Speaker


December 10

Alexander Rödlach, PhD, SVD

Improving Emotional Health in the Community: Health Ministries in Faith Communities

November 19

Ido Hartogsohn, PhD

Media as Drugs: A Cultural Perspective on Digital Media Addiction

October 15

Pierre Minn, PhD

Haitian Psychiatry at the Crossroads

September 17

Neely Laurenzo Myers, PhD

“Pathways Through Care: ´Madness´, Moral Agency and Mental Health Recovery”




Alexander Rödlach


Alexander Rödlach, PhD, SVD, associate professor of anthropology and psychiatry at Creighton University in Omaha Nebraska.



Ido Hartogsohn


Comparisons between digital media and narcotic drugs have become increasingly common in the rampant discussion on smartphone addiction and technology addiction. Commentators have used evocative terms such as ‘digital heroin', 'electronic cocaine,' and 'virtual drugs' when discussing users’ growing dependence on their devices. This talk will look at the spreading discourse comparing digital media with drugs from a set of interdisciplinary perspectives including media studies, political economy, critical theory, science and technology studies and addiction studies. It engages several key questions: To what extent can heavy smartphone use be considered an addiction, and how is it similar or different from drug addiction? How do the analogies between media and drugs fit within prevalent imaginaries of information technologies, and within the greater cultural themes and preoccupations of late capitalism? And finally, what can drugs teach us about the possible escape routes from our society’s current predicament?



Pierre Minn


Haitian psychiatry is characterized by a rich heritage of ethnopsychiatry, a chronic dearth of professional clinicians and overlapping concerns with religious and spiritual traditions. In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, Haiti has been the subject of a multitude of transnational mental health interventions, many of which are still active today. In addition, a growing number of Haitian medical graduates are choosing to pursue residencies in psychiatry. In this talk, I will examine the interplay of diverse intellectual and religious influences on contemporary psychiatric training and practice in Haiti.



Neely Myers


In the United States, persons experiencing a psychiatric crisis refuse to attend follow-up mental health appointments after an initial emergency hospitalization about half the time, and even when specialty care for early psychosis is available, around 30% of young persons drop out of treatment. This talk will draw on three sources: the wisdom of self-identified Mad Activists and user-survivor researchers; my first ethnographic book published in 2015, Recovery’s Edge, about people trying to experience and promote recovery from a long-term psychotic disorder; and, my more recent, U.S.-based, NIMH-funded project on treatment decision-making for young people experiencing early psychosis. The talk will explore how anthropological methods and theory can shed light on this mental health services puzzle: once we know how to offer excellent specialty care for early psychosis, how can we best engage young people in that care? By engaging in rich ethnographic work on this topic, I have found that nourishing a young person’s sense of moral agency is critical for any young person to transition smoothly to a role as a socially valued adult; it is also important for mental health recovery after a psychiatric crisis. I will share these findings, with an eye toward how we can better engage young people in processes of care that replenish lost moral agency and promote mental health recovery.




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